Representatives of student groups as well as university professors yesterday called on the government to allow all Chinese students to return to Taiwan.
The Ministry of Education on Wednesday last week announced that it would allow all foreign students enrolled in college degree programs to return to Taiwan to continue their studies.
However, later that day the ministry said that some Chinese students would not be included.
Deputy Minister of Education Lio Mon-chi (劉孟奇) said that due to “cross-strait related considerations,” only Chinese students in their final year would be allowed to return.
At a news conference in Taipei yesterday, members of the Chinese Youth Public Participation Association and the Taiwan Student Rights Front, and several professors protested the exclusion of Chinese students who are not in their final year.
“No blue [or] green, only education,” they shouted while holding signs with the same message.
The government should explain whether the exclusion of some Chinese students was due to political or disease-prevention considerations, said Ho Yuan-kai (何元楷), a graduate student at National Chengchi University (NCCU) and a founder of the Taiwan Student Rights Front, an advocacy group comprised of students from NCCU, National Taiwan University (NTU), National Taipei University and other institutes that focuses on education policy and public affairs.
The government should propose disease-prevention measures for foreign students returning to Taiwan to study, instead of sacrificing the rights of Chinese students, Ho said.
The ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council should discuss a way to enable foreign students, including from China, to return to Taiwan this semester, he said.
Huang Ling-hsuan (黃翎軒), another Taiwan Student Rights Front founder and a student at NTU, called the central government’s policy for the entry of Chinese students “discriminatory.”
The same standards that apply to students from other foreign countries should apply to Chinese students, Huang said.
Chinese Youth Public Participation Association deputy secretary-general Chen Ho-hsu (陳賀煦) said that distance learning via videoconferencing has made it difficult for Chinese students to participate in classroom discussions that other students are able to attend in person.
Chinese students pay the same tuition as others, but are currently unable to access physical resources such as libraries, Chen said.
NCCU College of Communication dean Kuo Li-hsin (郭力昕) said that political factors were the “only reason” behind the Democratic Progressive Party administration’s prevention of some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan.
NCCU professor of law Liao Yuan-hao (廖元豪) and NTU professor of political science Tso Chen-dong (左正東) also attended the news conference to support allowing all Chinese students to return.
Earlier yesterday, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called the exclusion of Chinese students from the government’s policy allowing foreign students to return “deeply disappointing.”
In a Facebook post, Ma urged university presidents to protest the policy and demand that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration correct it.
Meanwhile, children in China aged two to six who have one Taiwanese parent and one Chinese parent, and have Taiwanese residency, from yesterday were eligible to enter Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center said on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by CNA
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